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This week in Santa Barbara Wine Country saw the beginning of Pinot Noir Harvest.

Usually, black grapes are harvested much later in the year, with the exception of pinot noir. The reason is due to the thin skin of the pinot noir grapes. These cool climate berries grow successfully in the western most area of Santa Barbara known as the Santa Rita Hills.

All pinot noir producers and growers will tell you they are the most difficult and demanding of grapes to grow.

For example, pinot noir doesn’t like it too hot, as the skin can peel and crack, just like ours when we have too much sun. They don’t like it too cold otherwise, they won’t ripen, also they don’t like it too wet because they are susceptible to mold and mildew.

Due to this finicky behavior, pinot noirs need to be monitored and maintained to a higher degree than any other grape, and this causes their price to be at a premium.

Harvesting Pinot Noir also requires greater attention to detail: smaller picking bins so that the clusters don’t get squashed before arriving at the wineries for processing. Unlike the white grapes like chardonnay that are also being harvested at the same time, pinot noir will spend at least 12 to 18 months in barrels before they are ready to drink.